McCartney part 8: the insecure, paranoid loser

I can’t find the reference for this, it’s in one of these books I have but I can’t find it, so maybe I have the details wrong, but this is one of the things that drives me completely crazy about McCartney and, after everything else is sorted out, my feelings about his music, the shape of his career, his professionalism, his lack of inspiration, etc, after all that is sorted out, this is the thing that still gets to me.

The story, as I remember it, is that McCartney is in a hotel lounge, and the pianist is playing standards. The pianist takes a break and McCartney goes over to look at the guy’s piano. The pianist has been playing from a standard “fake book,” (maybe this one), and McCartney, amused, flips it open to see what songs are in it. When he comes to “Yesterday,” he is chagrined to find it credited solely to John Lennon.

This ruins his day.

He calls up the publisher of the fake book and learns that, due to space restrictions, they only credit the first songwriter listed on any given song. It’s nothing personal, they do it I guess with Lieber and Stoller, Gershwin and Gershwin, Holland, Dozier and Holland too.

This throws McCartney into a terror. Not being listed as the co-composer of “Yesterday” in this hotel-pianist’s fake book shakes McCartney to his core. It doesn’t matter to him that he’s listed as the co-composer of “Yesterday” every time it appears on a Beatles or McCartney record, or in any of the other of hundreds of incidents when someone has published a recording of it, it doesn’t matter that anyone with a passing interest in popular music knows that “Yesterday” is McCartney’s song, that the Beatles didn’t even play on it, it doesn’t matter that no song could be more obviously a McCartney song than “Yesterday,” it doesn’t matter that McCartney’s gigantic royalties don’t observe what is printed in a hotel-lounge-pianist’s fake book — this thing lists it as a Lennon song and that freaks the ever-loving shit out of McCartney.

Feeling the harsh wind of posterity breathing down his neck, McCartney launches a massive offense to claim his share of the Beatles story. Lennon’s murder in 1980, he feels, has given Lennon an unfair advantage in the “genius” sweepstakes — people, McCartney feels, are under the impression that the Beatles were “John Lennon’s band” and that Paul was somehow just puttering around in the background, playing bass or something. Maybe he feels that people equate him with John Paul Jones or John Entwhistle or — gasp — Bill Wyman.

(There are some legitimate causes for this paranoia — in McCartney’s mind, anyway. John Lennon was inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame many years before McCartney and McCartney, I’m told, was appalled when Andrew Lloyd Webber got a knighthood before he did.)

How serious is this problem? Here’s how serious. McCartney enlists the help of pal-from-the-old-days Barry Miles to write Many Years From Now, which goes through the Beatles’ career, incident by incident, album by album, song by song, line by line, for 720 pages. If this was a passing problem, I would guess that McCartney might devote an afternoon or two to making some inquiries and then rest assured that his place in music history was secure. But to go on for 720 pages about who thought up the haircuts and who thought up the collarless suits and who’s idea it was to grow mustaches and who thought of putting the orchestral climax into “A Day in the Life” and who came up with the melody for “In My Life” and who introduced who to Yoko Ono and who was out doing research while someone else was lying around his suburban mansion getting high, my God. Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing these stories and what’s more, I trust McCartney’s memory — I think he’s telling the truth. What’s more, I think the book serves a valuable purpose, delineating how these cornerstones of popular culture were designed and built. But when page 1 has McCartney saying “I loved John, I would never try to take anything away from his reputation,” and the ensuing 719 pages proceed to do just that, it gets a little creepy.

(I sense that McCartney is telling the truth about these things not necessarily because he says so, but because the things he says fit with the evidence — Sgt Pepper has the structural underpinnings of many subsequent McCartney albums, “In My Life” sounds like a McCartney melody, not a Lennon melody, so forth. Someday, I’ll do a post on the Shakespeare Authorship question.)

His campaign doesn’t stop there.  He calls his new album Flaming Pie, the title of which refers to a John Lennon quote regarding the origin of the name “Beatles” —  “I had a vision that a man came unto us on a flaming pie, and he said, ‘You are Beatles with an A.’ And so we were” — except Paul here claims that he, in fact, is the “man on the flaming pie.”  Nice. 

He releases Paul is Live, a concert recording from one of his 90s tours. The cover of the CD is a (extremely poorly) Photoshopped version of the Abbey Road cover — with all the other Beatles removed and replaced by a sheepdog. Not only is this bad, bad album cover art (oh God, like Abbey Road hasn’t been parodied enough times), it negates the other individuals who worked on Abbey Road (oh, remember that album Abbey Road? Yeah, that was mine, did you know that?) and it also, for those in the know, reminds everyone that the Martha of “Martha My Dear” was McCartney’s sheepdog. Because maybe there are people out there who think that Martha was Lennon’s sheepdog, I guess.

This is all irritating enough (and there is more where this came from), but then it gets ugly. McCartney, I’m told, can’t get past this incident in the hotel lounge. It eats away at him, he can’t stand it. Why, if this goes unchecked, hotel-lounge pianists the world over might introduce “Yesterday” as a John Lennon song until the end of time. He knows it’s a little late to call do-over on a decision he made with his friend forty years ago to make the credits read “Lennon/McCartney,” but the “Yesterday” thing just bugs the shit out of him, so he calls up Yoko Ono and asks, politely, if it would be okay with her if the credit were reversed for just this one song. John didn’t help him with any of the words, nor with any of the melody, and all this is well-documented, and it is Paul alone on the recording, and everyone knows that, and he’s not asking to have John’s name taken off the song, Yoko wouldn’t be losing a penny of royalties, Paul wants only to have the credit reversed, so that, in the future, no inebriated hotel-bar patron might mistakenly hear that “Yesterday” was written by John Lennon.

Yoko politely declines Paul’s request.

Now it’s war — it’s the battle of the cold-blooded, iron-willed bastards. Paul may be a brilliant, canny businessman and an absolute tyrant in the studio or boardroom, but he’s up against Yoko Ono, who never liked him and who is no slouch in the boardroom herself (for all her starry-eyed, peace-n-love posturing). And besides, she holds all the cards. It seems like such a small thing, but when Yoko has the opportunity to irritate Paul, there is apparently no such thing as a slight too small (let’s not forget, the rumor is that it was Yoko that tipped the Japanese police to McCartney carrying pot into Japan in 1980 — on top of everything, she’s a narc!).

McCartney puts out another crappy record and goes on another tour. The next live album, Back in the US (Paul seemingly giving up on selling himself as a solo artist any more, now he’s just “ex-Beatle Paul”) has a number of Beatles songs on it, and McCartney pointedly lists himself first as the composer of every one of them. Just to irritate Yoko, to goad her into trying to sue him or something. In his mind, there will be a public outcry from Yoko and that will push the issue into the public realm and then McCartney can act all innocent and everyone will say how McCartney has been cheated out of his rightful credit on all these wonderful songs that he wrote and John Lennon really didn’t, you know. I’m not making this up, he actually talks about this in the media, that this was his plan. It’s all so petty and bizarre and paranoid that it makes me recoil in disgust.

I know that Paul McCartney is a pillar of 20th-century culture. I know he was a large part of why the Beatles were so great, especially in the latter, greater half of their trajectory. Everyone knows that. My wife knows that, my children know that. Anyone with the ability to both read and listen to music knows that. I think everyone in the world knows it except Paul McCartney.

Anyway, he seems to be better now. I don’t know if it was the knighthood or the second marriage or the death of George Harrison or the billion dollars or so that he has to comfort him, but somewhere in there he gave up his pursuit of Beatle-history-dominance, decided that maybe being Paul McCartney was a good enough gig after all. Personally, I think he’s taking it easy to reduce his stress; he’s bound and determined to outlive Ringo — and then there will be no one to question him.


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Comments

51 Responses to “McCartney part 8: the insecure, paranoid loser”
  1. randymonki says:

    I imagine Paul pacing around the throne room of his estate cursing Lennon, Ono, and Reed Richards for constantly foiling his plans.

    • Todd says:

      Well, he did write a song called “Magneto and Titanium Man.”

      • craigjclark says:

        A song that I know all the lyrics to. There’s something about Paul’s more off-the-wall ditties that draws me to them. “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” is another example — I know that one so well that I can recite it in under a minute.

        • Todd says:

          That would make you a fan of Paul 3. I should patent these distinctions — I could make a fortune.

          • craigjclark says:

            Within reason. I definitely count “Bip Bop” as one of the lowest points of McCartney’s recording career. I must prefer something like “Oo You,” which seems like he was making up the words as he went along.

  2. teamwak says:

    Great read, thanks.

    Linda McCartney happily supported that side of Pauls character. I can imagine that she helped create the feeling of being slighted.

    I read a story of someone visiting Paul and Linda on their farm. There were flys buzzing around the food during dinner. The guest tried to swat them and was told off by Linda as flys are ling creatures too.

    Wierdos!

  3. jbacardi says:

    The credits switch was one of the worst ideas in McCartney’s recent history, no doubt about it. I remember just shaking my head every time I read something new about it, thinking “Jesus, Paul, this time you should feel like letting go for once in your life!”

    Sorry about the bad song title puns.

    I thought the Paul is Live cover was a cute idea, one in a long line of cutesy ideas, and didn’t really see it the same way you did. But I will agree that that’s some shitty Photoshopping. Not Prince-album shitty, mind you, but shitty just the same.

    And speaking of “shitty”, I thought Driving Rain was a pretty good album, the best thing he had done since Press to Play…but you know what opinions are like…

    • Todd says:

      I bought Driving Rain the day it came out. I was ready for it to be the fulfillment of the promise I heard on Flaming Pie.

      I remain in that state of readiness.

      • jbacardi says:

        I liked the tougher-edged, more band-oriented and less covered-in-studio-gloss sound of Rain. I thought Flaming Pie was about three good cuts and a lot of bland. Just shows to go ya!

        • craigjclark says:

          Almost every Paul McCartney album after Off the Ground has had an uphill battle for me. I listened to Flaming Pie once and then put it away for at least a year. Same with Driving Rain. Neither grabbed me. I’ve since gone back and listened to each once or twice, but they still strike me as inessential.

          Chaos and Creation was a different story because I was very interested in hearing what producer Nigel Godrich had been able to coax out of Paul since I loved the albums he’s done with Beck and Radiohead. I loved that record, believing it to be the best thing he’s done since Flowers in the Dirt.

          So far I’ve given Memory Almost Full two spins. The jury’s still out.

          • mcbrennan says:

            I’m with you; Chaos and Creation was great, Flaming Pie was pretty okay, and Flowers in the Dirt was very good, and before that….um, I think the last one I liked was Tug Of War, “Ebony and Ivory” notwithstanding. I need to give Memory Almost Full another spin, but the production…ech. Chaos and Creation sounded like a real album. Move back one space, Paul!

            • craigjclark says:

              I’m probably one of the few people who really likes Press to Play. It has some staggeringly strange songs that I thoroughly enjoy (“Pretty Little Head,” “Talk More Talk”) and time has not been kind to the mid-’80s production sound, but it was the first solo Beatles record that came out after I got interested in the band (closely followed by George’s Cloud Nine), so the nostalgia factor always kicks in whenever I listen to it.

              Even so, “Angry” and “Move Over Busker” are pretty terrible songs. There’s a reason why they’re buried near the end of side two.

              • Todd says:

                I’m probably one of the few people who really likes Press to Play.

                “One of the few” is probably accurate. I was reading up on it last night and discovered that it is McCartney’s worst-selling LP of all time.

                I just listened to it the other day — probably the first time I could get through the whole thing since I bought it — the 80s production didn’t bother me so much as the utter anonymity of it. It doesn’t sound like McCartney, it sounds like Eurythmics or the Police or somebody. Say what you want about Ram or Red Rose Speedway, there’s no mistaking them for anyone other than McCartney.

  4. And then the book gets credited as “Many Years from Now, by Barry Miles.” Now McCartney has to start all over again.

  5. eronanke says:

    My favorite Beatle was Ringo, because he knew it was all a joke to begin with. (Oh, god, don’t kill me for being POMO)

  6. mcbrennan says:

    He’s good enough, he’s smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like him.

    With the Beatles (and spouses) there’s more than enough paranoid, pathetic behavior to go around, but yes, Paul’s insecurity and/or gnawing need to be seen as the creative force behind the Beatles is probably the most painful to watch.

    My level of enthusiasm for things McCartney doesn’t quite match yours, but I do give him substantial credit for keeping the group together and continually pushing them into new, groundbreaking territory. That said, I don’t necessarily accept all his claims at face value; I am absolutely certain that, if Lennon were still alive and still petty, he too would have a book explaining how he wrote half the lines in “Eleanor Rigby” and the bridge on “Here, There and Everywhere” and so on, true or not. I’m not saying McCartney is lying, not at all; I’m just saying for various reasons both factual and psychological he is likely to have forgotten (or unconsciously downplayed) Lennon’s contributions. And I’m sure the reverse would have been true. What we have here are your basic Rashomon Beatles. History is written (and rewritten) by the survivors.

    Paul’s sense of feeling slighted is legitimate. My sense of it is that McCartney was a brilliant, relentless craftsman who would labor over his creations for hours, trying to beat sunlight out of cast iron. And then Lennon would stagger in and mumble some brilliant line or some weird little melody that would somehow be the vital spark that would take Paul’s piece to a new level. And I’m sure the reverse was true; I’m sure McCartney spun many a fragmented, incomplete, pedestrian Lennon piece into gold. But I think the lazy ease (sloppiness?) of Lennon’s creative genius bugged the hell out of Paul. Look at “I Will” vs. “Julia”. “I Will” is a tuneful, beautifully crafted song. It’s heartfelt and sweet and poetic. But “Julia”–for me, anyway–just blows it out of the water. Heartbreaking, engrossing, nakedly honest, and–in that startling middle-third chord change–quite complex. I imagine Lennon wrote it in about a half hour. I could of course be wrong, and Paul may have very well written the middle bit I like so much. Wouldn’t surprise me.

    Mostly due to that same snarky attitude, Lennon as a cultural force somehow resonated more with the times, with the anti-establishment vibe…and I think it drove Paul bats. From a pop-culture standpoint McCartney was almost working in his shadow, which is tough for a guy who’s doing 80% of the work. The times favored the irreverent rebel. McCartney’s not that guy; there’s a reason he loves those 20s-30s music-hall tunes. Craft, hard work, diligence–these were not the promoted ideals of rock music in the 60s and 70s (though they were obviously essential). I think had Lennon lived, in the long game people would have come to recongize and value McCartney’s genius and his vital contributions. I love “Plastic Ono Band” and “Imagine” (and Lennon’s “Double Fantasy” tracks) but with a few single-song exceptions here and there, the rest of Lennon’s solo work sucks. It’s undisciplined, plodding, overproduced, self-indulgent–“Rock and Roll” is more bloated and cheesy than all of Elvis’ near-death Vegas work combined. McCartney’s solo work on average has been better, understandably since there’s been so much more of it. I don’t blame him for feeling slighted. But nothing trumps a martyr.

    Of course McCartney will outlive Ringo. Irony is the most powerful force in the universe; the guy they said was dead always lives longest. And vice-versa; in the first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, DeForest Kelley makes a sweet cameo appearance as the longest-surviving (human) member of the original crew at age 147 or something. He was, of course, the first of the cast to die. Scotty was later shown to have survived; Jimmy Doohan died next. Nimoy should really go in for a checkup.

    You know the saddest thing? McCartney could have easily and quietly bought the fake book company and put his name wherever he wanted it. No one would have noticed it among his vast music publishing holdings. No, he needs the public to switch those names. Paul, it’s only a writing credit–it’s not love.

    • craigjclark says:

      Re: He’s good enough, he’s smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like him.

      I thought Paul’s need to rewrite Beatle history reached its apex with Let It Be…Naked, which wasn’t a bad idea in theory, but I would have been much happier if they’d released the film itself — or Help!, even. How they managed to let the 40th anniversary of that slip without releasing a special edition DVD is beyond me.

    • Todd says:

      Re: He’s good enough, he’s smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like him.

      My sense of it is that McCartney was a brilliant, relentless craftsman who would labor over his creations for hours, trying to beat sunlight out of cast iron. And then Lennon would stagger in and mumble some brilliant line or some weird little melody that would somehow be the vital spark that would take Paul’s piece to a new level. And I’m sure the reverse was true; I’m sure McCartney spun many a fragmented, incomplete, pedestrian Lennon piece into gold.

      Your intuition is keen — McCartney tells many stories of Lennon coming in with a scrap of song, maybe a chorus, maybe a first verse, not sure what to do with any of it, bummed out over this or that, and McCartney taking Lennon’s idea and building it into something.

      And Lennon could also be a craftsman when he wanted to be — probably when he didn’t want to be overshadowed by Paul. Although most of Lennon’s post-Pepper songs tend to follow the “live in the studio” feel of, say, “I’m So Tired,” he could also sit down and work out a piece on his own. “Revolution 9,” in spite of taking place on what was then Paul’s “turf” of tape loops and sound collages, was put together solely by John and Yoko, and I wouldn’t have guessed that Lennon would have the patience for it.

      • craigjclark says:

        Re: He’s good enough, he’s smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like him.

        And don’t forget, Lennon was primarily responsible for “Good Night,” which is definitely the sort of thing one would have expected out of McCartney.

      • mcbrennan says:

        Re: He’s good enough, he’s smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like him.

        And that’s exactly it–McCartney brought out the craftsman in Lennon and Lennon brought out the impetuous creative leaps in McCartney. That’s why I have some difficulty with McCartney’s sort of casting himself as the savior of the group even though I acknowledge that it’s basically true–because without those inspired scraps, those snide little asides and seemingly incongruous verses and melodies and slapdash attendance, you don’t get “Revolver” or “Pepper” or “Abbey Road”. You get Red Rose Speedway. (And conversely, without McCartney’s melody, discipline, commercial instincts and innovation you get Some Time In New York City.) Even as solo artists they were at their best when they were competing (or sniping) with each other (Imagine answered by Band On The Run, etc)

        While I’m hoping acrimony and open warfare aren’t a necessary part of the equation, I think the model of two (or four) artists pushing each other, each dynamically benefiting from (and improving upon) the others’ strengths and weaknesses, is a powerful thing that has the potential to produce great work in any medium.

        We’re also forgetting the professionalism, drive, innovation and creative talents of George Martin in all this, without whom I think none of this would have happened at all.

        • craigjclark says:

          Re: He’s good enough, he’s smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like him.

          Yeah, the thing about George Martin is he was Paul’s producer from 1981-1984, when he did some great work (most of Tug of War) and some truly embarrassing work (most of Pipes of Peace and Broad Street). Probably by the time Paul brought him in, he was already too set in his ways as a solo artist.

          But yes, during the Beatle years, Martin was the one who was able to figure out how to get the new sounds they had in their heads onto magnetic tape and that’s what made all the difference.

          • mcbrennan says:

            Re: He’s good enough, he’s smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like him.

            Not only that, but George Martin had already done a great deal of experimental recording (“tape music”, he called it) prior to working with the Beatles, as well as his amazing range of other recording work from comedy to orchestral. It was really a perfect marriage, and I think his enthusiasm for what they were doing, and his ability and willingness to “enable” it, was invaluable. Imagine McCartney or Lennon having to sit there and waste time and energy arguing with some stick-in-the-mud company-man producer who couldn’t or wouldn’t turn their odd, frequently unschooled or outlandish requests into musical reality.

            I, um, I like “No More Lonely Nights”. The rest of Broad Street bites. Actually I shouldn’t say that, I haven’t heard it in 20 years (though I do still own it, somewhere)

            • craigjclark says:

              Re: He’s good enough, he’s smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like him.

              Absolutely nothing wrong with “No More Lonely Nights” (even the disco-ish “Playout Version” is tolerable), but as Todd said, the other new songs (“Not Such a Bad Boy” and “No Values”) are pretty lacking and the re-recordings of Beatles classics are staggeringly misguided.

        • Todd says:

          Re: He’s good enough, he’s smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like him.

          Two other things to keep in mind when examining the Lennon/McCartney axis in re Beatles product:

          1. Lennon may have been a genius, but he couldn’t play drums if Ringo quit for a few days. McCartney, on the other hand, seems to be able to play any musical instrument placed before him, with genuine style and flourish. Think of how that must have weighed on Lennon, knowing that he could probably be replaced in the Beatles — that’s probably one of the things that kept the band going past Brian Epstein’s death in 1967 — Lennon, a lazy sod falling into a pit of drug addiction, could have easily quit and ended up like Brian Jones if McCartney were not there to kick his ass and provide the threat of replacement.

          2. Lennon, in spite of his mantle of leadership and fearlessness, was a weak and passive personality. He needed structure, discipline and guidance to flourish. Left to his own devices he would become self-destructive and rudderless (cf LA 1974). From the point his mother died, he wanted nothing more than to have someone boss him around, tell him what to do. Aunt Mimi took care of that until he met McCartney, McCartney took care of it until he met Yoko. McCartney could putter around his farm in Scotland and make pretty damn good pop music on his own time, playing all the instruments and just getting on with it, Lennon needed to have a band and a strong producer and everyone looking at him before he could produce anything at all. Most of all he needed the approval of his appointed authority figure.

          This is why Lennon said at one point that “How Do You Sleep?” wasn’t about Paul at all, but about himself — it was himself he was disgusted with, not Paul. But he couldn’t say he was disgusted with himself, his new authority figure wouldn’t approve of that — so he built Yoko up by tearing Paul down. He was a genius but could also be a transparently petty and mean bastard.

          Yoko helped this side of him with great facility and does not share his level of talent.

          • mcbrennan says:

            Re: He’s good enough, he’s smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like him.

            Okay, full disclosure. As a snotty (well, wannabe-snotty) wordsmith teenager I idolized Lennon and had no regard at all for McCartney. I believed that you were either an artistic genius or you weren’t, and if you were, every syllable that fell out of your mouth was perfect and brilliant. Whether an audience enjoyed it was so irrelevant as to be insulting. Scrutiny…and god forbid, a second draft, was for the weak, for mortal, ham-handed hacks like McCartney who had no spark of brilliance and so had to make due with things like effort and practice and revision. The pervasive artist-centered culture of the time supported this thesis, lionizing mercurial, tetchy, unreliable, inebriated iconoclasts and glaring derisively at “craftsmen”. I was–and I’m speaking of temperament here, not talent–much like the Lennon you describe. I had great ideas but I couldn’t finish anything. Had great plans but couldn’t be bothered to show up. I did my best early work when I had a McCartneyesque figure to provide the discipline and encouragement, and without that, I was indeed lost and self-destructive and rudderless. It was never drugs, it was more a total fear that underneath my so-called brilliance I just sucked, and if I actually completed anything, my lack of talent would become painfully obvious. As a kid, the only thing I had going for me in my life was being “gifted”. Everyone expected me to instantly produce great things, with no effort or guidance or discipline. If it was all a lie…well, that would have killed me. And just about did.

            Needless to say, over time I learned that real creativity is a function of effort, discipline, craft. There’s a value in that elusive spark, but it’s worthless without hard work, study, revision, willingness to learn, willingness to fail. In that way I admire McCartney now more than I ever could have imagined. But in a way I’m madder at him than I ever have been, too, because I’m terrified that the “craftsman” in me might start producing work like “Press To Play” (sorry Craig) or “Wings At The Speed Of Sound”. I still need that spark, that ability to surprise myself, because otherwise I’m just making sausages. So (although I’m in no way putting myself in their company) the Lennon/McCartney creative dynamic is something I look to, hoping to find the right balance in myself, and that’s why I’ve been especially interested in what you’ve had to say about Paul.

            The funny thing to me now is, I look at Lennon and McCartney (and Yoko and whatnot) and I think–Christ, what petty and mean and stupid people they were sometimes. How could they behave like that to each other? So vindictive and toxic. And then I remember how old McCartney was when the Beatles broke up. What, 28, 29? Lennon was 30? It makes me laugh–that seems so young to me now. I remember how screwed up I still was at 28 without the global media (and the FBI and the CIA and Interpol) following my every move. Then I remember to just be grateful they existed at all, that they did that great work and survived it.

            Of course, the survivors are in their 60s now (what is Yoko, 70-something?) and they still sometimes act like spoiled babies, so.

            • Todd says:

              Re: He’s good enough, he’s smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like him.

              As a snotty … wordsmith teenager I idolized Lennon and had no regard at all for McCartney.

              Ditto here.

              “Whether an audience enjoyed it was so irrelevant as to be insulting.

              I was in the performing arts, which meant that I knew right away if an audience enjoyed my work. As it happens, they did, at least enough that I got addicted to the feeling of an audience enjoying my work.

              The next step was then, how do I develop the source of that enjoyment, so that both I and my audience might benefit (myself as an artist, the audience as a more-or-less innocent seeker of pleasure)? And here an understanding of structure and analysis comes in, so that a successful experiment might become a repeatable successful experiment, and eventually simply style.

              I’m still working on that.

              If you think it’s funny that the ex-Beatles are being judged for things they did when they were 30, just think, McCartney is still burdened in very real ways by things he did when he was 15. Just imagine, every day of your life, you’re brought face to face with the repercussions of decisions you made when you were a teenager, a teenager, seeing that charismatic boy across the churchyard and thinking “well, that guy’s talented, I’d better go attach myself to that guy.” And then a few years later being handed a piece of paper by some lawyer, and you sign it and you have no idea that what it means is you will never get your fair share of monies made from hundreds of songs you wrote. And then a few years later, being faced with the decision to either stick by your friends and lose everything for everyone or else sue them and finally gain control of the recordings you all worked on.

              Plus you’re doing all this in England, which means the music press will either love you or hate you, for whatever reason they decide to make up at the moment.

              So if they act like spoiled babies, just think of how the most incredible experiences of anybody’s life happened to them when they were barely college-age.

              McCartney tells a story of riding his daughter on a bike home from school one day, and she turns to him and says “You’re Paul McCartney, aren’t you?” and he is forced to admit, yes, it’s true, he’s Paul McCartney, almost as an apology, as he has managed to keep that piece of information a secret from her up to that point.

          • craigjclark says:

            Re: Paul’s drumming.

            Yes, Paul was able to fill in on drums for a few days when Ringo quit in the middle of the White Album sessions, but his drumming was extremely primitive and not particularly inspired. I don’t think he came into his own as a drummer until Band on the Run five years later — which was very much a make-or-break album for him since two of his Wings band-mates quit on the eve of recording sessions. He also drums on a lot of London Town, and is rather good at it by them, which is why it’s so disappointing that he jumped on the drum machine bandwagon in the early ’80s.

            As for Lennon’s rudderlessness during his “lost weekend,” I actually think he produced some of his finest solo work when he was cut loose from Yoko’s influence (not Rock and Roll, but I just adore Walls & Bridges and think it’s a fantastic record). Sure, he still needed to goaded into doing it (by his then-girlfriend May Pang, who seemed to be a much better influence on him), but he could do it and it proved that he didn’t need an outside producer to work, he just needed to be in a good place emotionally in order to be in a good place creatively.

            • Todd says:

              Re: Paul’s drumming.

              Paul was able to fill in on drums … but his drumming was extremely primitive and not particularly inspired.

              “Extremely primitive?!” “Not particularly inspired?!” “Back in the USSR”‘s drumming is “extremely primitive” and “not particularly inspired?!”

              Now I have felt the sting of the gauntlet.

              In re Walls and Bridges, the rudderless, frightened, out-of-control Lennon was making worthwhile work — in order to get back in the good graces of his authority figure. Yoko had once inspired him by approving of his efforts, now she was inspiring him by witholding her approval.

              It’s funny, when I was a teenager I thought Walls and Bridges was such a grown-up, mature album. Now I’m five years older than Lennon lived to be and it seems so melodramatic and even bathetic. Although it does have enough going for it to make it Lennon’s third-best album.

              • craigjclark says:

                Re: Paul’s drumming.

                Didn’t mean to throw down a gauntlet. It’s just that I’ve always felt that Paul’s drumming on the White Album was competent and it got the job done, but no, I didn’t think it was inspired. Of course, I wouldn’t say Ringo was the most accomplished rock drummer, either.

                Paul’s drumming later on — on McCartney and especially Band on the Run and London Town — had a lot more going for it.

                • Todd says:

                  Re: Paul’s drumming.

                  I wouldn’t say Ringo was the most accomplished rock drummer, either.

                  Gasp! Splutter!

                  But this is madness. Ringo is one of the greatest drummers in rock history — just try to imagine the Beatles songs without his imaginative, lyrical fills. They served the songs, they didn’t call attention to themselves, and yet the songs wouldn’t be the same without them. Just try to imagine “A Little Help From My Friends” with Keith Moon in Ringo’s place, or Ginger Baker, or Jon Bonham, or Charlie Watts.

                  • craigjclark says:

                    Re: Paul’s drumming.

                    Madness it may be, but I stand by it. Ringo’s drumming had a lot of heart and personality, but he wasn’t the most technically adept skin-basher out there. He was able to keep time and keep it well, but I’m not going to give him a medal for it.

                  • Anonymous says:

                    Re: Paul’s drumming.

                    Chill!

                    It’s just Rock’n Roll! Rock ‘n roll just makes you famous. It doesn’t necessarily make you a great player. lyrical fills?!!

  7. craigjclark says:

    Re: He’s good enough, he’s smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like him.

    Well, Miramax had a bear of a time bringing A Hard Day’s Night to DVD (I saw the remastered print of it in theaters a good two years before it came out), so I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a spanner in the works somewhere.

    I know A Hard Day’s Night is the “better” film, but I’ve always thought Help! was more fun.

    • mcbrennan says:

      I’ve had some great good times with this finger, and how do you know I wouldn’t miss it?

      Help! has not only the incredible Leo McKern but the also-incredible Eleanor Bron, two actors I’d watch in anything (and have). Throw in the Beatles and Richard Lester and that’s a lot of incredibility. A Hard Day’s Night may be the “better” film by some standards (sheer innovation? mixing of forms? social satire? frenetic energy? cheek?) but Help! has been far more influential (on everything from Peter Cook & Dudley Moore to Python/Gilliam to the Monkees to Austin Powers). And–I may be roasted on a spit for saying this–I think the songs are much better. The title track, “Ticket To Ride”, “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away”, “She’s A Woman”…these are among my very favorite Beatles songs ever.

      • craigjclark says:

        Re: I’ve had some great good times with this finger, and how do you know I wouldn’t miss it?

        It’s hard to argue with a song like “Help!” or “Ticket to Ride,” but I have to single out George Harrison’s “I Need You” for praise since that really showed how his songwriting was flowering. I also love its place in the film, with the shots of the Army troops and vehicles surrounding them.

        • mcbrennan says:

          Re: I’ve had some great good times with this finger, and how do you know I wouldn’t miss it?

          I’ve been so focused on thinking about McCartney v Lennon that I’ve neglected George, and “I Need You” is indeed a great song. George was a tremendous talent and the great later Beatles records (Abbey Road and the White album especially) would have been hollow without his songs.

          • Anonymous says:

            Re: I’ve had some great good times with this finger, and how do you know I wouldn’t miss it?

            In fact, the more you all go on and on about Sir Paul and Saint John, the more I cling to my lifelong love of George.
            –Ed.

            • Todd says:

              Re: I’ve had some great good times with this finger, and how do you know I wouldn’t miss it?

              But then, you were always the dark horse.

              • craigjclark says:

                Re: I’ve had some great good times with this finger, and how do you know I wouldn’t miss it?

                I was wondering why he was out running on a dark race course.

                • dougo says:

                  Re: I’ve had some great good times with this finger, and how do you know I wouldn’t miss it?

                  You don’t get time to hang a sign on him.

                  • craigjclark says:

                    Re: I’ve had some great good times with this finger, and how do you know I wouldn’t miss it?

                    And there’s no time to rectify all the things that you should.

  8. r_sikoryak says:

    No doubt the “extremely poor” Photoshop image is Paul’s attempt to outdo the “completely unconvincing” collage on the cover of Mind Games.

    • Todd says:

      The weird thing about Mind Games is that it’s not a collage at all — Lennon actually had a mountain constructed to look like Yoko’s face.

      Boy, did he have issues.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Lets get one thing straight

    I’ve read all your comments abot Paul..Paul this and Paul that yada yada..

    • Anonymous says:

      Re: Lets get one thing straight

      Cancer is a Dis-Ease .Do any of you yodels know what George went thru? Paul is and will always be FOR HIMSLF.Why do you think he wont release LET IT BE ON DVD!.It shows the famous fight between him and george..all George wanted to do was play guitar ,and Paul shunned him .Cancer is a man keeping all the anger inside of him until his body could no longer take it . But in “THE End” Paul said We stroked each others hand before George died,because George is a FORGIVING MAN AND HE WAS AT THE END OF HIS LIFE. What kind of songs have come from george ..Love of GOD ..Any Questions

  10. Anonymous says:

    How clueless are you?

    Your senseless diatribe is typical of those who have been drinking the John Lennon KoolAid for 30+ years. Lennon, while talented, was clearly McCartney’s inferior with the Beatles. The evidence is legion. I suggest that you go to a “youtube” and seek out an interview with Geoff Emerick. Emerick spells out the insecurities that haunted Lennon. He points out that it was McCartney that pushed them, even in the early years, to excel. He claims that the Sgt Pepper album was dominated by McCartney, and that Lennon was hurt by how well the album was received. Even his wife (yoko) says that Lennon use to lay in bed at night and weep trying to understand why McCartney’s music was getting so much play. Lennon, himself can be heard on tape in the late 70s complaining bitterly about McCartney’s success. McCartney always tried to make peace with Lennon, but was unable to deal with Lennon’s many demons. His wife, I’m afraid, played into them. Lennon was threatened by the talent and commitment to excellence that was exhibited by McCartney and struck out in the only way he knew. That is, he defamed his music and him personally. The legion of morons that bought this crap continue to spout it to this day. They are usually clueless sycophants who couldn’t discern a cello from jello.

  11. Anonymous says:

    you are an idiot

    “Flaming Pie”, “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard”, and “Memory Almost Full” are far better than any Lennon solo record (even the first 2) and yes, Yoko is a talentless bitch.